By Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)
In his recent State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama spoke about his signature domestic achievement, Obamacare. He predictably declared that his health law is working as advertised, despite all the problems with the website, the millions of Americans who have had their health insurance dropped as a result of the law, and the skyrocketing costs that have made health care unaffordable for many. To anyone taking an objective view, Obamacare is a disaster.
Addressing Obamacare in his speech, the president, speaking to Republicans in Congress, said, “If you have specific plans to cut costs, cover more people, and increase choice – tell America what you’d do differently.” Along with Senators Tom Coburn and Richard Burr, I’ve done just that by unveiling the Patient Choice, Affordability, Responsibility, and Empowerment (CARE) Act.
Our proposal includes sustainable reforms that will do exactly what the president asked for: reduce health care costs, lower premiums and increase Americans’ access to affordable, high-quality care.
The Patient CARE Act starts off by repealing Obamacare. The president’s health law is flawed to the core, and the first step in repairing our health care system is repealing it.
Next, we address the No. 1 concern Utahns have expressed to me – the rising cost of health care. Our proposal harnesses the power of the marketplace to lower health care costs by increasing choices – not relying on Washington-directed mandates. And we repeal Obamacare’s regulations, mandates and new taxes on everything from prescription drugs to medical devices.
Our proposal also ensures that no one can be denied coverage based on their pre-existing condition, so every American who changes jobs or starts their own business would be able to get a similar health plan at a similar cost. We also allow young Americans to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26. But unlike Obamacare, our proposal includes medical liability reform so doctors in Utah and elsewhere will no longer need to practice defensive medicine, which has been proven to actually raise health care costs.
The Patient CARE Act prohibits insurers from putting a cap on total health care benefits paid over a patient’s lifetime, meaning that patients will no longer live in fear that they will max out their insurance and be denied access to critical care when they need it most.
Our plan includes targeted tax credits for families earning up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level, about $71,000, to purchase health insurance. We also reform the broken Medicaid system and give states, like Utah, more flexibility to provide the best coverage for citizens.
Our ideas are not pie-in-the-sky ideas, and outside experts agree the Patient CARE Act would reduce the national debt, lower health care costs across the board, and expand health care coverage.
The non-partisan Center for Health Economy released an economic analysis that found the Patient CARE Act will reduce our national debt by almost $1.5 trillion over 10 years and lower premiums compared to Obamacare. The same study found that our proposal will expand coverage and cover the same amount of Americans as Obamacare, improve medical care productivity by 2 to 3 percent compared to Obamacare, and that costs will be reduced while improving overall health care quality.
The president asked for ideas on how to improve our health care system, and myself along with Sens. Coburn and Burr have done just that. Hopefully the president meant what he said and will review our proposal closely. Utahns and Americans everywhere deserve nothing less.